The Status of Cannabis Legalization in Kentucky
Directly after Kentucky passed a historic vote of 65-30 for House Bill 136, the state’s medical marijuana legalization bill, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed pause on the legislation.
In March 2023, this pause finally came to an end. Gov. Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 47 into law, making Kentucky the 38th state to approve medical marijuana use.
SB47 establishes a medicinal cannabis program by allowing patients with a bona fide practitioner-patient relationship to access medical cannabis if their practitioner deems they could benefit from the use. The legislation institutes a governing body to decide daily THC limits, methods of use, and consumption. Patients will be allowed to have a 30-day supply of their medication at their residence and a 10-day supply on their person.
SB 47 was developed by local lawmakers and establishes the provisions for the state’s medical marijuana legalization. The program officially goes into effect in January 2025, giving ample time for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to draft oversight regulations for the program.
A few of these regulations are already included in the text of the legislation. In order to gain access to medical cannabis, residents need written certification from an advanced nurse practitioner or a doctor. This certification validates that the patient has been diagnosed with one of the 21 qualifying medical conditions listed in the order.
Additionally, KY Senate Bill 47 establishes guidelines for consumption and cultivation. The bill prohibits smoking and home cultivation. Patients may only consume medical cannabis through vaporization, edibles, or topical products. The bill establishes THC concentration caps for these products:
- 35% THC cap for raw flower
- 70% THC cap for cannabis concentrates
- Edibles may not be stronger than 10 milligrams per serving
As the medical cannabis program does not go into effect until 2025, local governments are in the process of licensing medical cannabis dispensaries. Kentuckians can expect these dispensaries to start cropping up over the next two years.
Patient Qualifying Conditions
The bill lays out at 21 conditions that qualify Kentuckians for approval. These conditions include:
- Any type or form of cancer regardless of stage
- Severe, intractable, debilitating, or chronic pain
- Epilepsy or any other intractable seizure disorder
- Multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, or spasticity
- Chronic nausea that has proven resistant to other conventional medical treatments
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Patients may also qualify for any other medical condition, disease, or terminal illness deemed appropriate by the Kentucky Center for Cannabis. According to this stipulation, the Center must determine that individual diagnosed with that condition is likely to receive medical, therapeutic, or palliative benefits from the use of medicinal cannabis.
Patients under the age of 21 years or older must have a certified caregiver. If they have medical cannabis in their possession, the caregiver must have a written document demonstrating their responsibility for the well-being of the qualified patient.
Possession and Cultivation Limits
Kentucky Senate Bill 47 is a no-smoke, no self-grow bill. No form of home cultivation is allowed under this law.
Though cannabis cannot be smoked, patients are still allowed legal access to raw flower, as vaporization is legal under this legislation.
Patients may only have a 10-day supply of cannabis in their possession and a 30-day supply at their residence. At this time, the bill does not specify a raw cannabis equivalent for these possession limits.
Frequently Asked Questions
As of March 2023, medical cannabis use is legal in Kentucky. Though patients cannot smoke or grow cannabis for medical use, raw cannabis is accessible for vaporization.
Recreational cannabis is not yet legal in Kentucky.
Medical cannabis dispensaries are expected to begin opening in 2024, as the new program will not take effect until January 2025.
No, the state does not offer any physician referrals, which is why Veriheal will set up shop in Kentucky when the state’s medical cannabis program goes into effect.
Veriheal will provide physicians for you once the state’s program begins. After meeting with a certified doctor in a virtual video consultation from the comfort of your own home, the doctor will determine your eligibility based on a qualifying condition(s).
From start to finish, the medical evaluation takes approximately 10-15 minutes.
Yes, cannabis oil is legal for medical use in Kentucky. Cannabis oil and all other concentrates must have a THC concentration of 70% or less.